Nebulous Notes iOS text editor with Dropbox integration review

Sections: iDevice Apps, iPad, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod touch, Reviews

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Category: Action games
Seller: Nuclear Elements
Compatibility: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (universal app)
Requirements: iOS 4.3 or later
File Size: 5.6MB
Price: $4.99
Age Rating: 4+

Among the proliferation of iOS text editor apps, Nebulous Notes stands out as one of the few I’m aware of that can open documents in Dropbox folders that don’t have the “.txt” suffix appended to their file names.

For users like me who juggle work in progress between Macs and the iPad, that’s huge. It’s not that big a deal to add the .txt to files originally saved on the Mac, if I remember to do it, but habits developed over 20 years tend to dominate. A few Mac text apps (eg: TextWrangler) do it for you, but most don’t, and I often forget. This makes Nebulous Notes’ happy capability to open such files anyway priceless…literally, as it happens, since while the full version of the app costs $4.99, there’s also in an ad-supported free version—Nebulous Notes Lite—which, as far as I can tell, is pretty much identical features-wise with the paid version. The ad isn’t quite as unobtrusive as it is with, say, the free version of PlainText, but it’s not a big problem, and if you don’t like it, you can always pay the five bucks and banish it.

Nebulous Notes is only for plain text editing, and can’t open or edit Word documents or PDFs, so it’s not a full-fledged word processor. However, I’ve worked almost exclusively in plain text for nearly a decade and a half, so that represents no hardship for me.

Nebulous Notes also features an enhanced virtual keyboard with what the developers call a “Utility Bar”—a row of extra keys that help with input efficiency. Unfortunately, there’s no n-dash key or capitalization/lower case keys, both of which I find especially convenient and useful, but the shortcuts that are provided are nice to have.

What Nebulous Notes’ attractive interface does include are a brightness slider, a WYSIWYG font menu and font size preferences (you can also adjust font size quickly with two-finger gestures), and choice of text colors and background themes. There are also preferences for line-spacing, word-wrap cut-off, TextExpander integration if you have the TextExpander app installed, Notepad CRLF lines, automatic encoding, and Auto-sync.

As noted above, Nebulous Notes supports Dropbox integration with a particularly slick and flexible implementation. I agree with Nebulous Notes’ developers that Dropbox is the the best back-up and cloud sync service in the world. A convenient file selection drawer on the left of the Nebulous Notes interface allows you to switch back and forth between locally-stored and Dropbox-stored lists with a tap. Nice.

Also very cool are a markup preview and HTML export features. The latter are not up to my AppleScript-enhanced Tex-Edit Plus in OS X, or BBEdit, but still nice to have. Email export is also supported, as is a simple word count monitor, and there is a search engine for searching local files.

If you like a full screen text field, that is supported as well (with the ad if you’re using the ad-supported version). Not my cup of tea. I prefer immediate access to the toolbar and documents menu, and don’t find a relatively busy screen distracting, but you have a choice.

I really like this little app. The easy customization and wide range of interface features are unmatched in any other iOS text editor I’ve found so far, and the Dropbox integration is also the best I’ve encountered.

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Nebulous Notes review

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